One of my favorite things about this time of year are all of the best-of lists and year end reviews. Novels, movies, cookbooks, news reviews – I love them all. Given the focus of With Two Spoons, it should be no surprise that both Lane and myself are total cookbook addicts. We read them like novels, devouring the pictures and plotting our way through the recipes. Thus, when the year end lists of the best cookbooks come out, I scour them for a new treasure I might not have seen yet.
While I love to discover new cookbooks to try, I have noticed that year after year, there are are tomes I turn to repeatedly in the practical business of cooking for my daily life. The specific books tend to change a little each year, depending on my mood, what my kids are eating (or, more accurately sometimes, are not eating), and my work schedule, but there are a few constants that make the list again and again.
Recently, I asked Lane to give me the names of the cookbooks she turned to most this year and with my three picks, I put together a little Year in Review: Most Loved Cookbooks for you all. Two of the books were published this year, and four are a little older. They are all fantastic and worth having in your own kitchen library. It should be said that these choices in no way represent all of the books we’ve loved this year – that list is WAY too long! – but rather a small sampling of what we’re really using in our home kitchens.
The Pioneer Woman: Dinnertime (Ree Drummond)
Ree, the wildly popular blogger and Food Network host, knows how to write a great cookbook. Her recipes are hearty, relatively easy, and crowd pleasing. What’s not to love about that? Lane notes that Ree’s Holiday cookbook is another staple! I would agree.
Date Night In (Ashley Rodriguez)
I gave this cookbook to Lane for her birthday not long after it was published and it’s been a favorite for both of us since then. We both love the lemony white beans and I think I can safely say that we consider the salted chocolate chunk cookies a total classic!
Foolproof (Ina Garten)
I own the vast majority of Ina Garten’s cookbook for the simple reason that they work. She is known for testing her recipes endlessly and the proof is in the pudding. It is rare that I find the need to adapt a recipe and I have yet to have one fail. I particularly love her roasted brussels sprouts with pancetta and balsamic glaze as well as her mashed potatoes. This book has a spot on my counter and is covered with post-it notes. It stands next to her Make It Ahead cookbook, which gets almost as much use!
The New Best Recipe (Cook’s Illustrated)
This cookbook is a pick from both Lane and myself. It was published a number of years ago but remains a go-to in both of our kitchens for essentially the same reasons we love Ina: these recipes are solid. From the kitchen geniuses at Cook’s Illustrated, each recipe is a carefully researched, thoroughly tested version of classic recipes that you will make again and again. I am partial to the baking sections as well as the soups. If you could only have one cookbook in your kitchen, this might be the one to choose.
Skinnytaste: Fast and Slow (Gina Homolka)
This cookbook is a total newcomer to my kitchen, having just been published this fall, but it is already becoming a total favorite. I love the original Skinnytaste cookbook for flavorful recipes with a healthy twist and this newest collection goes a great step further and focuses on the kitchen wonder known as the slow cooker. As a busy mama to a three year old and a newborn, I really appreciate the ease of most of the recipes I’ve tried.
It’s All Easy (Gwyneth Paltrow)
I know, I know…but you guys, give this one a try. I am in love with her enchilada recipe and have really enjoyed a few of the soups and simple meals. While there are some recipes that are a little over the top in terms of special ingredients and equipment, overall this has been a great (and surprising!) addition to my cookbook collection.